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Review – Dickel Barrel Program Tennessee Whisky

Posted by Reese on 2014-12-09 @ 09:36pm

As previously mentioned, I was selected to be part of the Dickel Dozen blogger program.  A few weeks back they sent a bottle of Dickel Barrel Program Tennessee Whisky my way along with some challenges.  I’ve been responding to their challenges (more on that later) and, more importantly, drinking the whisky and making some great cocktails.  So, let’s get to the important stuff!

Handmade the Hard Way

The color of this whisky begins offering hints to its boldness before you even uncork the bottle.  The rich cedar/mahogany color speaks to the barrel aging and charcoal mellowing.  The aroma is complex with notes of vanilla and fruitcake (think spice, fruit and caramel) and subtle hints of oak and corn coming through.  Given that Tennessee Whisky and Bourbon are both corn based it seems logical that you’d get some corn coming through.  But I can’t say that I’ve noticed it much in other whiskies.  I really enjoyed its presence here.  That corn aroma brought me back to what and where this whisky comes from.

The flavor is bold.  This is not a whisky for whiskey newbies or folks who are only so-so on it.  On the other hand, that’s a great thing for people who love whisky.  Like this guy.  The flavor brings more of the vanilla, caramel and fruitcake flavors to the front with the oak and corn sticking around, but in a supporting role.  Despite the boldness, this whisky remains smooth and rich.  There is light spiciness from the rye (8% of the mash bill) which works really well with the deep fruit flavors.  The finish on this whisky is long, with a pleasant warmth in your throat and reminders of the fruitiness floating around for quite a while.

I could drink glass after glass of the Dickel Barrel Program Whisky neat but, hey, I make cocktails.  So how does it stand up to three of my favorite classics?  Like a champ!

 

Dickel Manhattan

Dickel Barrel Program Manhattan – The bold character of the whisky carries through and stands up to the rich flavors of the sweet vermouth (I used Punt e Mes) and the result is a very rich, full bodied cocktail.  I found that this Manhattan could be one that you sip slowly over the course of a relaxing night or … it might disappear quicker than expected.  But therein lies the perfect balance. *

 

Dickel Whisky Sour

Dickel Barrel Program Whisky Sour – Oh man, this drink reminded me why I like the classic whiskey sour so much.  The cocktail is smooth, crisp, refreshing and alarmingly easy to drink.  Definitely make sure you’re including the egg white and use a touch less sugar.  The complexity of the Dickel pairs really well with the sourness of the lemon and the egg white smooths it all out.

 

Dickel Old Fashioned

Dickel Barrel Program Old Fashioned – My notes sum it up perfectly, “Bold but smooth”.  This is another one where I’d cut down on the sugar you typically use.  The inherent sweetness of the whisky come make up for the decreased sugar.  I found 2 tsp of simple syrup was a bit too sweet for me, but a touch more Dickel sorted that out.  The subtle smokiness of this whisky really came out in the Old Fashioned and worked great with the orange.  As with the others, this is a cocktail I can (and have) envisioned myself enjoying much more quickly than planned.

 

I’m finding after these few weeks of sampling that Dickel Barrel Program Whisky has an abnormally short life span when in my house.  Could be the altitude, but I’m guessing not.  Cheers, friends.  May there be whisky in your glass and love in your heart.

 

* It should be noted that I actually stopped writing at this point to have another Dickel Manhattan. :)


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Berentzen Bushel and Barrel

Posted by Reese on 2014-12-02 @ 05:39pm

For over 250 years Berentzen has been making distilled spirits and specifically apple and other fruit liqueurs.  Bushel and Barrel is the marriage of their long experience making apple liqueur with the years of tradition and flavor of Kentucky Bourbon.  The result is a apple bourbon liqueur clocking in at 30% ABV.

The color is a light honey/amber.  The nose is where it really starts to come alive, though.  The aroma is primarily crisp apple with the subtle notes of bourbon – caramel, vanilla and spice – rounding out the profile.  The flavor follows what the aroma started and with less sweetness than I expected.  This liqueur is truly not cloying like so many are.  The whiskey adds back notes but the apple is really the star here.  I have to add that the apple flavor in Bushel and Barrel is more natural than I’ve found with other apple liqueurs.  I think it would make a really interesting, slightly more “grown up”, Apple Martini.  For me, Bushel and Barrel is best when mixed 1:1 with a nice high-rye bourbon or straight rye.  Something with some spice to play off the sweet apple flavors.  I’ve been adding a dash of bitters and making a Bushel and Barrel Old Fashioned that is very tasty and perfect for the fall.

Berentzen Bourbon Old Fashioned

Berentzen Bushel and Barrel Old Fashioned
1 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
1 oz Berentzen Bushel and Barrel
1-2 Dashes Old Fashioned Bitters
1) Combine over ice
2) Garnish with a fresh or dried apple slice
3) Drink
4) Repeat

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Crafthouse Bottled Cocktails

Posted by Reese on 2014-11-11 @ 05:23pm

Bottled cocktails, mixers and the like are something I’ve usually shied away from.  Typically something that comes from a bottle is going to taste, well, like it came from a bottle.  The fruit juices are flat, the herbal notes are muddy, bleh.  So, I was naturally a bit apprehensive when I was offered review samples of Crafthouse Bottled Cocktails.  The apprehension began to fade as I heard they were being crafted and produced by the USBG’s 2014 World Class winner Charles Joly.  Okay, you’ve got the cocktail cred, do you have the flavor to match?

Crafthouse Cocktails

Crafthouse is currently producing three classic cocktails with natural ingredients, premium spirits and a close eye on the flavor and replication of the classic recipes.  And they’re doing a damn fine job of it.

Paloma – This is one of my favorite summertime cocktails and the Crafthouse version is very well done and disappeared alarmingly quickly.  The grapefruit flavor was very fresh and natural.  The flavor is much closer to a Paloma made with fresh grapefruit juice than grapefruit soda so expect a light bitterness.  For me, the bitterness is perfect though and makes the drink that much more refreshing on a hot day.

Southside – If you’ve not heard of a Southside, think Mojito made with gin.  The lime and mint flavors are very fresh and natural tasting but masked the gin notes a bit more than I would have liked.  I am a gin nut though.  While I liked this recipe, the other two edge it out on the favorites list.

Moscow Mule – Wow! The ginger flavor in this cocktail is intense.  If you’ve ever had fresh, homemade ginger beer this is exactly the flavor you’ll find here.  Crisp ginger, tart lemon and just carbonated enough to make it refreshing.  Excellent version of a cocktail that is becoming hugely popular again.

All that aside, here’s the pressing question.  Would I buy these over making my own?  Absolutely.  If I was headed to a party and wanted to bring a cocktail but didn’t feel like standing behind the counter making each one by hand, I’d reach for these in a minute.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Dickel Dozen – Challenges

Posted by Reese on 2014-11-07 @ 09:15pm

My bottle of George Dickel Barrel Program Tennessee Whisky arrived earlier this week* and with it some challenges.  I’m up for a challenge, so I’ll be posting my answers to Twitter/Facebook in the coming few days.  So you’re not totally caught un-aware, here are the questions prompting my answers.

George Dickel Barrel Program Tennessee Whisky

  • Share a photo of you sippin’ George Dickel in the most peaceful place you know.
  • If you could pick anyone to share a glass of George Dickel with, who would it be?
  • What is your go-to toast when enjoying George Dickel with friends?
  • Share a photo of something you enjoy crafting that’s #HandMadeTheHardWay.
  • What three words best describe the taste of George Dickel’s Barrel Program Whisky?

 

* It’s damn good. More on that later.

Homemade Orange Bitters

Posted by Reese on 2014-11-04 @ 05:27pm

Lately I’ve been drinking a lot of carbonated water at work and at home.  My favorite way to drink it is with quite a few dashes of bitters.  While I like the flavor of aromatic bitters (and I’ve been using a previous batch frequently), I prefer fruit bitters.  Having barreled through a couple bottles of Fee Brothers bitters I decided to try making my own orange bitters.  Here is the recipe from my first batch.

Orange Bitters Steeping

Reese's Orange Bitters (Batch 1)
Peel of 2 Oranges (including pith) sliced thin
Zest of 2 Oranges
3 Cinnamon Sticks Broken into Pieces
15-20 Cloves
2-3 Cups Vodka
1) Combine the above  in a jar and let it steep for a week
2) Strain through a metal sieve
3) Re-strain through a clean paper towel to get the fine particulate out

Okay, so that was batch 1 which netted about 20 oz of really tasty orange bitters.  They were lightly sweet, with a really fresh orange flavor.  The spices were there but not overpowering.  They lasted all of about 2 months.  Sooo…wanting a little more output and some additional flavors, I moved on to batch 2.

Reese's Orange Bitters (Batch 2)
Peel of 3 Oranges (including pith) sliced thin
Zest of 1 Orange
8 Cinnamon Sticks Broken into Pieces
15-20 Cloves
15-20 Allspice Berries
2 Cups Vodka
2 Cups Water
1) Combine the above  in a jar and let it steep for a week
2) Strain through a metal sieve
3) Re-strain through a clean paper towel to get the fine particulate out

This batch netted about 3.5 cups (30 oz) but the flavor isn’t as robust.  The orange flavor is more subtle (and the color is notably lighter).  The bitter notes are a bit more pronounced, likely from the extra pith.  Finally the spice qualities are about the same.  Going to be good for water flavoring, but not as powerful as I was hoping.

So, for batch 3, I’ll definitely be going back to something closer to batch 1.  I think the extra zest (versus whole peel) gives more orange punch and the lower quantity of liquid made the end product more concentrated.  Go figure, right?  Though, I’m liking the additional spices.  Likely my next batch will retain the allspice and possibly add ginger or cardamom to the mix.